Interesting Gompas and simple houses characterize the remarkable town of Leh. This exceptional town offers a lot to the tourists. Right from scenic beauty to spiritual satisfaction, Leh is a complete package. A place with appalling beauty and an unforgettable aura Leh is an extremely popular tourist destination. Lying in the lap of the gigantic and magnificent Himalayan ranges, Leh is one of its kind destination. Leh houses around 78% of Buddhists. There are ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in here that make it a religiously important place.
The Hemis monastery hosts an annual Hemis festival in honor of Padmasambhava. He is believed to be the representative reincarnate of the Buddha. During the festival, a number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. The ceremonies begin early in the morning with a ritual atop the monastery where beats of the drum, clash of the cymbals and spiritual wail of the pipes, a portrait of "Dadmokarpo" or "Rygyalsras Rimpoche" is public displayed for worship and admiration. The mystic mask dance is a spectacular festivity. Mystic mask dance is collectively referred as the 'Charms Performance'. It is an essential part of the Tantric tradition performed only in the monasteries that follow the Tantri Vajrayana teachings and the monks who perform Tantric traditions. The traditions of the past are greatly preserved here and that makes Leh a more special tourist destination.
Another beautiful monastery in Leh is the Shey monastery. The Shey monastery was built in 1655 by Deldon Namgyal. He built the monastery in the memory of his late father Singay Namgyal. Shey has the second largest statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in entire Ladakh. The Shakyamuni Buddha statue is 12 meters tall. The walls on both sides of the Buddha depict total 16 Arhats (saints who achieved Niravana). The images of Buddha's two chief disciples- Sariputra and Maudgalyayana are painted on the wall behind the Buddha. The Buddha statue has three levels- the lower level, the middle level and the upper level. The lower level shows his feet and a mural of Shambhunath, the middle level shows murals of Buddha in different postures while the upper floor is darkened due to the soot of eternal burning butter lamps. Before fleeing to Stok Palace following invasion by Kashmiris, Shey was the royal residence of the Namgyals. Shey is located on the route to Thikse monastery from Leh.
The Shey monastery also hosts festivals. Two seasonal festivals are celebrated in Shey, 'Shey Doo Lhoo' and 'Shey Rhupla'. 'Shey Doo Lhoo' is celebrated for two days special rituals are performed by monks. Villagers throng the monastery during this festival. 'Rhupla Dance' is performed by two men wearing tiger costumes. Other folk dances are also performed during 'Shey Rhupla'. Oracles are given by two soothsayers who visit the monastery during festivals. It is believed that women, who do not have children, pray to Buddha and seek his blessings to have children. Leh is a place where you can get immense satisfaction as a tourist as well as a human being owing to its spiritual aura and rich traditional evolution.
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